Work was under way today to repair a four-mile stretch of power lines brought down in blizzards in the North as 10,000 properties endured their third day without electricity.
More than 100,000 homes and businesses lost power after snow storms hit on Tuesday causing widespread disruption, and technicians involved in efforts to repair the electricity network have been shocked by the extent of the damage.
In Cloughmills, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) engineers are rebuilding 4.5 miles of electricity lines brought down during the severe weather, a task which includes replacing 60 electricity poles.
The company said the work would normally take a number of weeks, but was being done in a matter of days and hours.
Specialist staff have been drafted in from outside the North to help in the repair work, while three helicopters are surveying damage and delivering materials to engineers.
Officials said: “NIE confirms that it has restored power to 90,000 customers since Tuesday’s extreme weather.
“An additional 8,000 homes and businesses had power restored by midnight last night. Ten thousand customers are still without electricity supplies.”
It said the worst hit areas included parts of counties Tyrone, Derry and Antrim.
NIE added: “Over 650 engineers and linesmen will be working in the field today.”
But amid fears that many families will face the Easter weekend without electricity, NIE said it had been liaising with local council emergency planners to open community centres to provide heat and hot water to those in need.
Large areas of counties Tyrone, Derry and Antrim were lashed by blizzards, heavy rain and high winds on Tuesday, with up to 300 people rescued from a mountain road after conditions overwhelmed vehicles.
Yesterday, police had to go to the aid of a family in the Plumbridge area of Tyrone who were running out of food and fuel in their snowed-in house.
Sergeant Stephen Creighton of Police Search and Rescue said “Once the situation was reviewed I contacted North West Mountain Rescue who sent out three Land Rovers to try and reach the family.
“Unfortunately the heavy snowfall made any attempts by the volunteers to get close to the house impossible.
“Our main concern was the young children in the house who would not have been able to make it through the snow, which was eight feet deep in places.
“The adults were able to make it to the Land Rovers, however we used the police helicopter to transfer the children from the house to their parents.”